Culturally Competent Care for LGBTQ Older Adults

"The Main Thing: Respect"

LGBTQ Older Adults Discuss The Importance of Cultural Competence in Health Care

This video, jointly produced by the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation and SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders, illuminates the importance of person-centered, culturally competent care for LGBTQ older adults in all settings where they receive medical care and other health-related services. The four older adults featured in the video share, in poignant ways, how important it is for their providers to create an atmosphere of trust, open communication and mutual respect.


Many LGBTQ older adults have experienced over the decades persistent distrust, stigma, discrimination and outright hostility in many everyday interactions, including when they needed to seek out medical care or other health services. And while great progress has been made on this front, we know that today many LGBTQ people, transgender people in particular, are still subjected to some of the most painful discrimination when accessing health care. This includes, but is not limited to, when people seek medical services related to gender reassignment.

Nondiscriminatory health care services are not only a right for LGBTQ people, but are paramount to assuring that they are able to live healthy lives with dignity. A full medical history is a fundamental element of good care. Without including in that history an understanding of all aspects of a person’s life – including sexual orientation and activity as well as gender identity and expression – a health care provider won’t be able to meet that person’s full range of health care needs.

While this video offers insights around issues unique to LGBTQ older adults and highlights the excellent training SAGE conducts for providers, the theme of culturally competent care is universal. Delivering culturally competent care – whether it is related to a person’s race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, language or literacy – is an important step toward furthering health equity. This is one of the Center’s core values which we strive to promote in all of our work. The Center, is working to help promote concepts of person-centered care and help health systems and providers make progress in incorporating these best practices in their care delivery for all consumers.

To learn more about cultural competency in patient-centered care for LGBTQ older adults , the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging is a clearinghouse offering a wide range of publications and other resources to explore.